• Host Bar in South Korea. (Image. @BBCNewsMagazine) (Twitter)Source: Twitter
And they're not about sex.
By
Sarah Norton

28 Apr 2016 - 1:31 PM  UPDATED 28 Apr 2016 - 2:25 PM

In a ritzy area of Seoul, a trend has risen where all-night bars are open purely to cater for women.

They’re called Host Bars, and they provide a place where women go and spend - sometimes - thousands of dollars for male company. It’s a booming business in South Korea and Japan with hundreds of places just in the wealthier Gangnam district of Seoul.

The men wear shiny suits and have every strand of hair perfectly in place. The host bars are part of a growing industry that came from the long-standing traditions of Japanese geisha and Korea’s kisaeng houses. While those traditions cater for men, host bar’s cater entirely for women.

They are all-night drinking bars that women frequent to find male companionship for the night.
An American woman, Emma who is living in Seoul decided to experience a host bar for herself and documented it on her blog.

 

“The bar was not your average bar. Instead of stools, there were red loveseats on a raised platform, so you could reach the bar. Behind it were several stools for the guys to sit while they chatted with you,” she writes on her blog.

Emma sets the scene, saying the lights were dim and the men were all very engaged and flirtatious as they chatted at the tables of women. The hosts were stylishly dressed and all very handsome.

The cheapest bottle of wine at bar Loveholic - where she was - was a white wine worth 90, 000 won (about $70-80USD), this was in addition to the $10 bar fee – you could also choose a table for about $20 and a booth for about $30.

The experience is not about sex, but it can happen if negotiations are made between customers and hosts.

Jasper Kim, head of the Asia-Pacific Global Research Group in Seoul, tells the BBC that the bars are related to South Korea’s rapid economic growth. Kim explains that South Korea is notorious for long working hours, which has meant many women are feeling lonely.

"The human element of Korean society that existed before simply doesn't exist today. People are focused on technology, people are focused on their jobs, they aren't focused on human relations anymore,” he tells BBC.

 

These bars are breaking down social barriers in South Korea. They are offering women a place where they are in control. Women now have a place they can come to where they’re guaranteed to be pampered, respected and given personal attention.

The concept is ultimately not about sex, but about companionship and enjoying a night out in a ritzy bar with a ritzy man. 

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